Making Sense of Their CD Releases
Muthas, we covered the albums from Diamond Head’s classic period from 1980-1983 in Part 1, and in Part 2 we are going to cover the later studio albums, compilations and live albums. This is where their discography gets even more confusing, if you can believe that! First we are going to cover their later studio albums.
Death And Progress
In 1993, the band actually released a new studio album with both Sean Harris and Brian Tatler on board, but, unfortunately, Colin Kimberley and Duncan Scott were not involved. However, a couple of Metal luminaries were on hand – Tony Iommi, Dave Mustaine and Max Norman. The results were fairly pedestrian with nothing on the album approaching the quality of their classic material. This album should once and for all convince you that Sean Harris is not interested in being in a heavy band as most of the songs sound like they could have been on a Thunder album. It’s definitely not the amazing return to form that we all wanted, but rather an average collection of hard rock songs. It’s not terrible, but it’s not anything noteworthy either.
There are two versions of this album:
1993 – Castle Communications/Essential/Bronze – Cat. No. ESS CD 192
This is the most common version of the album and is abundantly available on the used market.
2001 – Castle Music – Cat. No. CMRCD241
This is a reissue with new artwork and has reportedly been remastered which somehow actually makes the album sound worse! It’s unlikely you’ll run across this version, and I don’t recommend it.
All Will Be Revealed & What’s In Your Head?
I am lumping their two most recent albums together because neither feature Sean Harris, and without him the resulting music lacks any of the old Diamond Head magic. Harris might be impossible to deal with and temperamental as all hell, but his vocals are amazing and the band suffers without him. Neither of these releases is essential to your collection, and I don’t really recommend them. Again, they aren’t terrible, but they aren’t really the Diamond Head that you’re expecting to hear. Here’s the info on each:
All Will Be Revealed
2005 – Livewire – Cat. No. LW015-2
What’s In Your Head?
2007 – Livewire/Cargo Records – Cat. No. LW020-2
Here’s where things start getting fun as there are a bewildering array of Diamond Head compilations, and four of them all have the same title! Which takes us to:
I Got A Case Of The Am I Evils
I guess it should come as no surprise that Am I Evil is a popular name for Diamond Head compilations considering it’s the band’s most well-known song. However, there are four separate compilations with that name and most of them have completely different content! Here’s how they break down:
1994 – Heavy Metal Records – Cat. No. WKFM XD92
This collection features another stunning album cover from Rodney Matthews, a slipcase, and a nice booklet with full lyrics. The vinyl version was originally released by FM Revolver in 1987. Of course the booklet makes no mention of the origin of the songs, but it turns out that these are all demos from the years 1978-1981. In addition, these were all remixed by Brian Tatler in 1986 - 1987. Hooray! More remixes! They are reverbed to hell and back with a very annoying, clattering cymbal sound just like his remixes of Lightning To The Nations. It’s interesting to hear early versions of some Diamond Head classics, but don’t be fooled, this is NOT a greatest hits package. I recommend this for die-hard collectors only. It’s unlikely that you’ll run across it anymore because it has been out of print for many years.
1999 – Chrisly Records – Cat. No. CR 25001
Guess what, despite the completely different artwork and label, this is the same exact material as on the 1994 Heavy Metal Records version of Am I Evil. There is no difference at all even though the booklet goes to great lengths to NOT explain where this material came from. Also, this version is readily available at distributors right now and should be avoided. Don’t buy this unless you’re insane like me, and you are dying to hear remixed demos.
2004 – Sanctuary Records – Cat. No. CMEDD880
This compilation is actually a honest-to-god greatest hits collection! Hooray! This is a nice two disc set that covers their entire career up to 2001 . The songs are a mixture of material from Lightning To The Nations, Borrowed Time, Canterbury and Death And Progress. There’s also a couple of live tracks and an acoustic version of “Lightning To The Nations.” This is a fairly comprehensive collection and I recommend it if you only want a greatest hits package. It’s out of print, but easy to acquire on the used market fairly cheaply.
2013 – Spectrum Music/Universal – Cat. No. SPEC2139
This is the newest Diamond Head CD to hit the market and it is a single disc that features material from their first four albums and a couple of live tracks from the BBC archives. It’s not a bad single disc set, and is readily available. I prefer the 2004 Sanctuary compilation to this one, but if you only want a single CD, this isn’t a terrible choice.
Compilations That Aren’t Called Am I Evil
Behold The Beginning
1992 – Metal Blade Records – Cat. No. 3984-14005-2
The granddaddy of them all! This was the earliest compilation of Diamond Head songs and is composed of remixes done by Brian Tatler in 1986. Yep, those same old remixes are back again and they still sound like crap. Six cuts from Lightning To The Nations are featured, as well as four songs from various singles. The U.S. CD version adds the track “Am I Evil?” and has a liner notes essay from Lars Ulrich. Lars even trashes the shitty quality of the remixes. Ha! Also, the liner notes are wrong because they bizarrely state, “All tracks form the album Lightning To The Nations except “Waited Too Long” released as a single.” I have no idea why the liner notes say this because it’s clearly incorrect. Even stranger is this incorrect “fact” has crept into the band’s discography on places like discogs.com and metal-archives.com.
I don’t recommend this compilation because it’s composed of the inferior 1986 remixes, however, you are definitely going to run across this. It’s been in print since 1992 and is readily available online from many distributors. Avoid.
1992 – MCA Records Japan – Cat. No. MVCM-321
You aren’t likely to run across this one, but I have it so I might as well cover it here. This is a compilation of all of the band’s singles from 1980-1983. Well, actually, it’s not that at all, but rather a strange combination of 1986 remixes and material from their MCA albums. The pre–MCA “singles” are merely the Brian Tatler 1986 remixes and not the original single versions. The MCA material is all original though, and was rare at the time of release. This is a novelty and not something you should waste money on at this point as all of the material is available elsewhere.
To Heaven From Hell
1997 – Metal Blade Records – Cat. No. 3984-14136-2
This little five track EP has liner notes that claim this is a collection of demos from 1978-1981 that were remixed by Brian Tatler in 1987. So are these some new demos that we haven’t heard before? Of course not! Instead, this is half of the material that was presented on the original Am I Evil compilation from 1987. What a useless ripoff this is. Not only is it the same old shit, but it’s only half of the demos and they charge full price for it. This is still in print and I urge you not to buy it. Metal Blade should feel ashamed of this cash grab.
The Best of Diamond Head
1999 - Half Moon/Universal – Cat. No. HMNCD 046
This compilation was a breath of fresh air when it was released because it was composed of songs from the MCA releases, and that material had not been released on CD in the U.S. up to that point. There are no Brian Tatler remixes and no material from Lightning To The Nations. This is only studio material from Borrowed Time and Canterbury without any demos or live tracks. This is not a bad single disc best of, but it is limited in scope and had been surpassed by other compilations.
2000 – Metal Blade Records – Cat. No. 3984-14336-2
This compilation was the first compilation to feature the original mixes of all of the band’s pre-MCA singles and the entirety of the Lightning To The Nations album. The songs were all remastered from the original source by Dirk Buro and they sound great. In fact, these remasters were the source for the 2001 Sanctuary Records version of Lightning To The Nations (mystery solved!) For some unknown reason, Metal Blade chose to shuffle the song order all up rather than presenting them in chronological or even album order. They also thought it would be a good idea to give it a name that’s very close to another Diamond Head song/EP name – Diamond Lights. Lights, nights, whatever!
In addition, this is the only compilation to feature the “It’s Electric (Remix)” from the 1981 Diamond Lights EP which while it's certainly not essential, it is nice to have. This compilation is still readily available and I highly recommend it if you come across it and you don’t already have a version of Lightning To The Nations that has all the pre-MCA singles on it.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many live albums from any era of the band that have been released and only two are currently in print:
Bonus Live Tracks
2009 – Universal Music – Cat. No. 5320200
This is the third disc that’s included in The MCA Years box set. It contains 11 tracks and is composed of the band’s performance from the 1982 Reading Rock Festival, and their 1982 BBC In Concert recordings. Overall, this is a nice collection of vintage live material from when the band was at their peak. It’s yet another reason why I heartily recommend The MCA Years box set.
Live At The BBC
2010 – Universal Music – Cat. No. 5329138
Here we have a two-disc set of live material from 1980, 1982 and 1993. Essentially all the material from The MCA Years box set is here along with the band’s 1993 show from the Milton Keynes Bowl. The 1993 set is pretty good and was previously released on the long out of print CD called Evil Live. I would only recommend you pick up this set if you don’t have the box set, or you just have to have the 1993 show. There is nothing else on it that’s exclusive.
Missing In Action?
You may be asking if there’s anything official that has never made it on to CD and this answer is…yes. To lessen confusion earlier I said that all their pre-MCA material has been reissued on CD, but one song actually hasn’t. For some reason, the single version of “Helpless” has never made it on to any CD that I can find. “Helpless” was originally the b-side of the “Shoot Out The Lights” single which was the band’s first single. This version of “Helpless” is two minutes shorter than the album version, but other than that, is not much different. I can only assume that’s why it’s never been reissued. You can check it out below:
A Brief Note On Wax
If you are a vinyl collector, the good news is that because Diamond Head was signed to MCA, their old vinyl is plentiful and can be had for good prices. They issued several nice singles, EPs and even a picture disc or two. There have been virtually no reissues of their albums on vinyl to date, but I suspect that will change in the near future. You are only going to run in to difficulty when you get to their pre-MCA material, and Lightning To The Nations goes for all sorts of crazy prices now. Hey, at least the CDs are plentiful and cheap!
Well that’s the end of the Diamond Head CD mysteries. To recap, I recommend you simply buy these two releases:
Lightning To The Nations 2011 – Universal Music – Cat. No. 2785026
The MCA Years 2009 – Universal Music – Cat. No. 530197
That’s it! Those are the only two you need and you’ll have all their pre-MCA material, all their MCA material and some nice live tracks. I hope this helped sort out the Diamond Head CD discography and saved you a bit of cash too.
As always, MAKE MINE METAL!